The Best Way to Remove Hair From Your Bikini Area for a Stubble-Free Summer
It's the ultimate question: Shave, wax, or sugar?
Summer is finally around the corner, which means swimsuits and shorts are right around the corner. And while body hair is absolutely normal and natural to have, not everyone likes having it — and that’s okay, But choosing to remove your hair can come with even more choices to make: namely, which method of hair removal to go with.
Shaving, waxing, and sugaring are among the most common forms of hair removal, so which one will work best for you? Deciding between these three options can come down to lifestyle, accessibility, skin sensitivity, and even the texture of your body hair, which is why we asked experts for everything about shaving, waxing, and sugaring. Read ahead to see what our experts said.
Related:Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About Waxing — Down There
The Differences Between All The Methods
“Shaving is a form of depilation, while sugaring and waxing are forms of epilation,” says our expert Mindy Foster, owner and master sugarist at She Sugars Co in Philadelphia, PA. Unlike epilation, where the entire hair shaft and bulb are extracted from the hair follicle below the surface of the skin, “depilation is where the part of the hair above the skin is manually — or chemically — removed," she explains. "The hair that you can see is what’s actually removed."
Shaving is the easiest form of hair removal to perform: it just requires some shaving cream (though some people use oil or even hair conditioner) and a razor. The blades of the razor are gently dragged in the opposite direction of hair growth to shave off the hair.
With waxing, a wax blend is melted to between 125 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, before being applied with a wooden applicator onto the skin and hair in the direction of the hair growth. From there, an epilating strip is smoothed onto the wax, and quickly pulled off the skin to remove their hair away from the direction of the hair growth. “There is also hard waxing, which doesn’t involve epilation strips,” Foster says. “The wax hardens as it cools and the wax itself is removed off the skin, removing the hair along with it.” And, of course, there are at-home waxing strips, which you warm between your hands to melt the wax.
Sugaring, on the other hand, uses an all natural paste made of sugar, water, and lemon to remove hair. “There are other combinations of sugar pastes, but the sugar-water-lemon combination is the most common,” says Foster. “This makes it an all-natural alternative to waxing, and the sugar paste itself also isn’t hot — which makes it an excellent option for sensitive skin types and sensitive areas.” The temperature of sugar paste stays around 85 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so there’s a much lower risk of scalding or burning. “Another benefit of the lower temperature of the paste is it doesn’t remove live skin cells, while many waxes do," she says. "This means the skin will feel soft post-hair removal, but never raw or irritated.”
A major difference between sugaring and waxing is that sugaring removes the hair in the natural direction of the hair grown, which is the complete opposite from waxing. This creates a thorough extraction, less hair breakage, and less ingrown hairs during the grow out process.
Shaving: Pros and Cons
Compared to waxing and sugaring, shaving is the most convenient option, since it’s usually done in the shower at home. It’s also fast, cheap, and painless (unless you're dealing with a nick or cut).
But since it only removes the visible hair and not the entire shaft and bulb of the hair, the results are very temporary, and can cause ingrown hair. And in the event that there wasn’t any shaving cream used, there’s a good chance shaving can also cause uncomfortable razor burn.
Waxing: Pros and Cons
Waxing is the second most common form of hair removal. The results last much longer than shaving — up to 10 to 14 days, according to Foster — and the results tend to be smoother. By removing the entire shaft and bulb of hair from the follicle, Foster says that many people tend to experience a significant reduction in hair growth as the hair begins to grow back. “Because the hair is being removed by the root, the follicle can be damaged by this trauma to the hair root,” says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “That means that the hair may grow back thinner over time.
However, you'll have to stick with waxing to get that perk. "One treatment won't produce these results, but repeated sessions can discourage hair growth," she says. "Regular treatments are likely to reduce hair regrowth, and the regrowth will be finer.”
Related:The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Bikini Waxes
That being said, since waxing tends to be performed at a higher temperature, there’s a greater chance of being burned, and it’s definitely more painful than shaving, since the bulb of the hair is being removed from the follicle. Wax also adheres to the live skin cells of the area it’s applied to, which means the live skin cells can be torn off when the strip is removed. This can create a lot of inflammation, irritation, and an unpleasantly raw feeling afterwards.
The technique of removing the strip can also cause more ingrown hairs afterwards, since the hair is being extracted against the natural growth. King also discourages waxing if you have very sensitive or inflamed skin, if you have taken isotretinoin in the last six months, and if you have used a topical retinoid or retinol cream in the past 5 days.
Sugaring: Pros and Cons
Sugaring is a popular alternative to wax, and for good reason: The results last up to two to three weeks before the hair starts growing back in again — and, since the paste isn’t too hot, the skin won’t take much punishment if the same area is treated repeatedly. Like waxing, many people notice a significant reduction in hair growth when the hair starts growing back, but since the paste removes the hair in the natural direction of growth, you’re less likely to experience in-grown hairs.
The sugar paste used to remove the hair is water-soluble, which makes it easier to clean up afterwards, too. And yes, like waxing, sugaring is going to hurt, but will also probably hurt less, since the sugaring paste doesn’t adhere to the skin. But it’s not as widely accessible as waxing and sugaring, which means that unless you plan to practice on yourself, finding a good studio near you with experienced professionals could be difficult. Sugaring will also have the same contradictions around sensitive skin, isotretinoin, and retinoids.
Related:How Often You Really Need to Wax Your Bikini Line, According to Pros
How To Choose Your Hair-Removal Method
A good place to start is to pay close attention to see how your skin and hair react when you try out a new method of hair removal: does your skin get red and inflamed after waxing? Do you notice more in-grown hairs after you shave? If whatever you’re doing is causing irritation, it’s probably a good idea to look into a new method.
From there, think about some lifestyle factors, like time. Do you mind shaving every other day, or would you rather have to get re-waxed every 4 to 6 weeks? How’s your pain tolerance? Do you have any skin conditions that could be exacerbated by waxing or sugaring? Conditions like eczema and psoriasis can be exacerbated by aggressive forms of hair removal that disturb the surrounding skin, like waxing or shaving.
Also, consider your hair concerns. For those with curly body hair, shaving can cause significant in-grown hair. On the other hand, those with very fine hair might find that waxing and sugaring causes their hair to snap, as opposed to being extracted at the root.
Finally, do a little research to find some service providers in your area that are within your budget. “I think more than anything, hair removal is so much about personal preference,” says Foster. “I think ultimately you know what’s best for you and as mentioned above — your skin will tell you what’s best.”
Related:Here's Exactly How to Avoid Bikini Line Bumps
For more InStyle news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on InStyle.